Personally, this was my seventh time traveling to this Caribbean nation – five times as a player and two times as an assistant coach.
The Ryerson University Men’s Volleyball Team partook in its annual Cuba winter training camp. This year’s destination was Varadero, which is about two hours east of the capital, Havana. Personally, this was my seventh time traveling to this Caribbean nation – five times as a player and two times as an assistant coach. I must say, this was the best one yet! Let me tell you why…First of all, he weather was gorgeous! Even though we caught a few cloudy days after our arrival, the majority of the trip saw sunshine and temperatures in the mid-20s. Several of our Rams got the chance to work on their tans.Secondly, we got the chance to compete against elite international competition. Each morning we traveled to Matanzas (a nearby city) to train with the U20 Matanzas provincial team.
Mirek was even able to secure an exhibition game against the Cuban Junior National Team. Since a good chunk of the team was traveling outside of Canada for the first time, this experience provided a great opportunity for our guys to interact with athletes of another culture. The Cubans were athletic, passionate, and determined. They hate to lose – that’s why each game was a battle for pride. We managed to pull out the victory on the final and most important game day, winning 3-1 against the Matanzas provincial team. After the game, it was pleasant to see our guys mingling with The Cubans were athletic, passionate, and determined…the players, trading shirts and shoes, taking group pictures, and sharing some laughs.
The afternoon was time to put the indoor shoes away and apply the sunscreen. We set up the volleyball courts on the beach right beside our resort. We squeezed in as many games as we could before the sun would go down (or before we got hungry!). This year’s roster has a handful of firsttime beach volleyball players and it was satisfying to see that each player got better every day. In addition to the game play, our team met every evening to review volleyball tactics and engage in mental training. This was a vital part of the trip since the team is young and we are looking to bounce back from a rather disappointing first half of the season
Volleyball was not the only item on our agenda. Karina, our energetic instructor, lead us in intense power aerobics sessions on the beach. These sessions allowed us to work on our coordination and
endurance. The loud dance music drew in locals and tourists from the area. To our luck, we attracted a Yoga instructor and she offered to give our team a couple lessons on the beach. We took her up
on her offer and the next day we were showcasing our lackluster flexibility routines!
On top of all this, we managed to squeeze in a trip to Havana. After an exhibition game, we headed to Old Havana to bask in the rich culture and architecture. We managed to stop at the most popular flea market to pick up a few goodies (and practice our bartering skills) and then made our way to the best hotel in Cuba for a cabaret show.I tried to squeeze two weeks of experiences into one page. I was only able to give you a taste of the magnificent and productive time that we spent in Cuba. All in all, we accomplished our goals and managed to have some fun at the same time. Thanks to everyone who made this trip a memorable one!
Thank you one more time for all the help with organizing our 10 annual Winter Camp in Varadero. All worked the way I like it. We did not have any glitches. We really enjoyed our time there and will be cherish all the memories with brought with us back to Canada. Attached a few pics a few stories from players perspective.
Mirek Porosa, Head Coach Men’s Volleyball,
Ryerson University, Department of Sports and Recreation, Toronto